Our nation’s national parks are great places to view wildlife and majestic scenery untouched by human expansion, but they are also popular meccas for photographers, hikers, and tourists, especially major parks like Yellowstone National Park. All it takes to avoid large crowds at Yellowstone is a bit of preparation and common sense. 

Be the Early Bird

As with most endeavors, arriving early to Yellowstone will allow you to beat the more casual visitors and have more opportunities to view wildlife. Most park entrances, including Yellowstone’s, are open 24 hours in the summer, so you can visit any time. Those looking for the best views and photo ops would do well to get there around sunrise, though, as this is the best time for such tasks. It’s also smart to check Old Faithful’s eruption schedule ahead of time if you’re looking to view the geyser’s activity

Seek Out Less Popular Spots

You have to arrive early to view the more famous geysers, but there are also ones many don’t even visit that are just as exciting to see. For instance, you can take a five-mile out-and-back backcountry hike to the Lone Star geyser, which erupts on a steady schedule every three hours.

Get Off the Beaten Path

While there are nearly 500 miles of paved pathways in Yellowstone, it definitely pays to get your boots a little dirty and venture away from the pavement and boardwalks. Do this, and you’ll discover roughly 1,000 miles of trails that barely see any foot traffic aside from the more adventurous hikers. Many of these trails wind through the park’s more remote areas, offer great views of lakes and rivers, and may even afford a chance or two to spot some of the more rare wildlife. If you do encounter animals along the roadways, though, the most important thing is to stay in your car.